Men outnumber women 5 to 1 in BDF enrolment

For every five men that are enlisted into the Botswana Defence Force every year, only one woman gets the nod. So far the highest ranking female in BDF is a captain since she was enlisted in 2007. Acting Minister of Defence Justice and Security, Nonofo Molefhi told parliament he could not mention specifics of the numbers of women in the BDF because of the associated security risks of divulging such information. He was answering a question from MP for Selibe Phikwe West, Ditlhapelo Keorapetse asked the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security update this Honourable House on women in the military and to specifically state the number of women in the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), including the number of those commissioned, non-commissioned and enlisted per year compared to men and the highest rank held by a woman “We cannot put in the public domain of our army, particularly that the honourable is a member of the oversight committee that deals with these matters. The other issues in details, he can get from that committee. “That notwithstanding, the numbers of commissioned and non-commissioned officers are in the ratio of one officer to seven non-commissioned officers”, he said. He said that the inclusion of women in the military has not been subjected to any empirical or other assessment by the BDF or other bodies and hence there are no findings to share. Militaries in the world have admitted women to serve in the army on equal basis as men, subject to their meeting local capability needs, recruitment standards and international best practices. This was the case when Botswana started admitting women in the Botswana Defence Force. Molefhi confirmed that there are cases of fraternisation and sexual harassment but that reported cases are thoroughly investigated and disciplinary action is taken against offenders which include dismissal. Keorapetse said considering the time women were enlisted in the BDF he thought by now the BDF would be having females holding the ranks of Major and Lieutenant Colonels. He even wondered if BDF does not have affirmative action to which Molefhi answered in the negative. He said the country is still on a learning curve in as far as running a military that encompasses both male and females. He said subsequent to enlisting the first females, BDF had to put them on probation and they were commissioned as lieutenants in 2010.